York Chemistry Grad Returns for Impressive Presentation

He has been gone from York a mere two years, but Azhad Chowdhury, ‘11 already returned to his alma mater for a presentation of his research at Purdue University, where he is working toward a PhD in Analytical Chemistry.

Introduced by Dr. Jong-Ill Lee, his primary York mentor, as “one of my babies,” Chowdhury, a native of Bangladesh, admitted that his chosen area of chemistry is new to him and therefore, challenging.

“I am not doing Organic Chemistry, which I studied here,” said Chowdhury. “I am struggling with this, but I have no regrets.”

Chowdhury came back to York as an invited speaker to the Chemistry Department’s weekly Natural Science Seminar Series (NSSS) and discussed his research “Study Of Active Pharmaceuticals Ingredients (API) and it's formulation with Non-linear Optical Microscopy.”

The department describes the NSSS series as one which “provides an opportunity to foster the engagement of faculty, students and staff in the scientific enterprise and to cultivate an environment of intellectual discourse and growth by promoting interaction between scientists at every level.” Chowdhury is not the first alum to have received this prestigious invitation, Dr. Aubrey Smith III, ’94, an associate professor in the Biology Department at Montgomery College in Maryland, was a presenter in NSSS series during the fall semester of 2010 as well.

Chowdhury, who in his presentation thanked both York for hosting and Purdue for sponsoring him, is part of Dr. Garth Simpson’s group at Purdue. And despite his claims of “struggling” he recently presented his research manuscript for approval, which was still pending at the time.

The budding “Dr. Chowdhury,” who drove a taxicab to support his family and pay his tuition while a student at York, told current students in his old department that they can expect to work hard and to even cry, in graduate school.

He also had high praises for the nurturing he received at York and credits recommendation letters from Dr. Lee, Dr. Ruel Desamero and others for his easy acceptance into the Purdue program.

“I didn’t even have to interview to get in,” said Chowdhury. “And Purdue is number two in the country for chemistry.”

The grateful alum told the audience that his mentor at Purdue always asks the question, “’Who cares and why care?’” “The public will always care,” said Chowdhury.

His York mentor is pleased with Chowdhury’s progress.

“I think his presentation was fantastic,” said Dr. Lee. “Every second listening to my student was thrilling. Working at the Argonne National lab, in just two years after graduation from York...his research will benefit drug developers in the pharmaceutical industry greatly. I am very proud that I am a faculty [member] at York and could touch someone's life in this favorable way. It seems very clear that he will be a fine analytical chemist who is devoted to technological advances and in helping others.”

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